In part one of this article, I talked about how becoming a learning organisation can unlock the potential contained in a system and explored how effective learning can take place at the individual level. In part two, I will discuss how you can ensure effective learning can take place at both the team and organisational level.
At the team level, the learning needs to focus on collective observation and reflection, based around a framework of shared goals and mission. This also goes hand in hand with a supportive environment where rather than blame and recrimination for sub-standard performance, the team is supportive and involved in helping all members to develop capability and increase contribution. This requires an openness to discussing individual behaviours in response to feedback and to apply and continually monitor these behaviours, and the use of collaboration tools and the sharing of individual knowledge is essential to facilitating this.
So, in effect there are four major areas for consideration:
- the purpose of the team and the team success criteria
- the make-up and dynamics of the team
- the design of the technical infrastructure to support the team
- the process of team development
Specific behaviours that lead to team development include:
- members having a range of overlapping skills and competencies
- the leader acting as a coach and mentor, rather than a traditional supervisor
- problems seen as collective issues to be resolved, not just managers problem
- teams developing their own solutions
- teams setting and monitoring their own targets – and monitoring these
- members having direct customer contact wherever practical (customers may be external or internal)
- the need for constant personal upgrading is recognised and encouraged by all team members
- rewards are diverse and situational
At the organisational level, there may be considerable barriers to the development of collective learning, including a lack of recognition of the need within the staff body, functional and geographic barriers (especially since Covid-19), a risk-averse culture, and a lack of buy-in and encouragement from leaders at all levels of the organisation.
In order for organisational learning to continually take place, there has to be an organisational commitment to allowing it, through planning, policies, encouragement, recognition and investment, both in technology and human resource.
The organisation has to critically examine and be honest about identifying and measuring its’ core competencies and addressing the deficits that exist.
There may be a performance gap relating to a lack of efficiency in cost, quality, response time to queries and requests for service which can be directly addressed but there may also be an opportunity gap.
An opportunity gap is an area where resources could be profitably deployed to create new opportunities, whether new markets, products and services or generating more customers/members. Addressing an opportunity gap is a more problematic activity but can be addressed in part through:
- Gaining staff commitment to innovative approaches
- Leveraging resources to focus on functionalities rather than products and services
- Energising the whole organisation to concentrate efforts by developing a collective mindset, shared goals and developing strategies for acquiring and deploying the individual knowledge and competencies to the common good
- The development of governance processes that foster ever-better quality of relationships across traditional business units and functions and sees the collective learning spanning organisational boundaries
For organisational learning to develop there needs to be more than just information passing. There needs to be sharing of individual and team learning and the willingness to invest in the technical infrastructure to support this.
Are you looking to implement new technology and want to ensure you can unlock the potential contained in the system? Get in touch to find out how we can support you.